Canada to release Lac-Megantic derailment report on Aug. 19

McClatchy Washington BureauAugust 5, 2014 

Canadian investigators will release their long-awaited report on a deadly Quebec train derailment in two weeks, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada announced Tuesday.

The agency will unveil the findings of a 13-month investigation on Aug. 19 in Lac-Megantic, the site of one of the worst North American rail accidents in decades.

On July 6, 2013, a 72-car crude oil train rolled, unattended, down a hill and into the town. The subsequent fires and explosions killed 47 people and leveled several square blocks.

The derailment set in motion a wave of regulatory changes on both sides of the border to improve the safety of crude oil shipments by rail. But many state and local officials, including mayors, fire chiefs and lawmakers, worry that the response hasn't kept pace.

U.S. railroads moved more than 400,000 carloads of crude oil last year, an exponential increase that happened almost overnight. Domestic sources of oil, including the Bakken shale region in North Dakota, are lessening the country’s dependence on imported oil.

On July 23, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced its proposals for stronger tank cars, safer train speeds and proper classification of hazardous materials. It also initiated a new rulemaking process on emergency response plans for rail incidents.

Lac-Megantic was the worst of a series of derailments of trains carrying crude oil. Other derailments in Alabama, North Dakota and Virginia in November, December and April caused massive spills and fires. No one was injured or killed in those incidents.

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